Innovative Systems in Energy-Water-Environment Nexus

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Energy situation

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Iran energy at a glance

  1. Overview

  Iran , with an area of 1,628,750 km2 and a boundary of 8,865 km is located in the heart of Middle East, southwest of Asia. Its neighbours are Iraq and Turkey to the West; Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Armenia to the North; and Afghanistan and Pakistan to the East. Boarder lengths with these countries are 1,609, 511, 1,205, 759, 48, 945, and 978 km, respectively. Iran also borders the Caspian Sea (657 km) to the North and the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman (2045 km) to the South.

 According to 2009 estimates, Iran has a population of over 73.65 million, of which 52.32 million is urban and 21.33 million rural. Tehran is the capital city and the most populated in the country. Other major cities include Mashad, Isfahan, Tabriz and Shiraz. The density of the population, on average, is around 45.2 person per km2. The population density in 1976, 1986 and 1996 and 2006 was around 20.7, 30.4, 36.9 and 43.3 person per km2, respectively.

2. Oil

 In this respect, since 1997 major effort were made to develop upstream sector of oil industry. O il industry plays a crucial role in Iran’s economy, GDP, and government’s annual budget. It is also influential in foreign trade, national capital, employment and developments in non-petroleum exports. For the Iranian government, it is also very important to effectively allocate oil revenues in the rest of its economy. For this purpose, an efficient oil industry becomes one of its highest priorities. The dominant role of oil and gas in the world’s future energy demand, made Iran to stabilize its interests and place as the second oil producer among OPEC members in global oil and gas markets. Iran’s total recoverable oil reserves has increased due to recent discoveries and reached to around 151.17 billion barrels in 2009. This figure declares an increase about 14.2 billion barrels, something about 10.3 percent compared to its previous year.

  In 2009, the amount of crude oil production in the country was about 1433.51 million barrels of which, 800.0 million barrels is exported and 612.21 million barrels is consumed as a feedstock of domestic refineries. Iran has proved to be the cheapest, fastest, and safest route for transporting oil from the Caspian Region to the open seas. At present, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan transfer their oil through Iran’s pipelines.

  In 2009, amount of NGL production was about 177032.3 thousand barrels per day of which nearly 45.1% is used for the petrochemical companies and the rest is allocated to other uses including injection. At the same year, from the total production of NGL, 41.0% is exported, 6.0% is used in the oil refineries and the rest consumed for other uses including injection.

  In Iran, there are nine refineries with a total nominal capacity of 1347 thousand barrels per day. These refineries provide the bulk of domestic demand for petroleum products and the surplus of their supply is exported. Design of each refinery differs depending on the type of the crude oil it receives. All Iranian refineries are designed to use high quality light crude oil. In 2009, nearly 78.6% from the total production of the refineries in the country is allocated to the gas oil, gasoline and fuel oil. From this figure the share of fuel oil production is 28.6%.

  In 2009, the total volume of transported petroleum products via pipeline, road tankers, railroad and marine bunkers was 40926 million tons- Kilometer. Pipelines are the most common means of oil transportation due to their lower costs. Something about 67.7 of petroleum products transfer through pipelines. Consumption of the major petroleum products (i.e. LPG, gasoline, kerosene, gas oil and fuel oil) had an average annual growth rate of 3.6% over the period of 2004-09. The volume of petroleum products consumed in 2009 was 89571 million liters.

3. Natural Gas

  More usages of natural gas as a clean fuel is one of the major policies of Iran energy sector. Huge reserves of natural gas and wide distributing net work all over the country would help to protect valuable oil reserves, reduce environmental greenhouse gas emissions and supply a part of international energy demand. Having the second largest gas reserves in the world, Iran has already imposed a comprehensive fuel-substitution policy to change the pattern of domestic energy consumption toward larger share of natural gas among other energy carriers and to promote its place in international gas markets. This is one of the major goals of long-terms energy policies in the country.

  According to recent estimates, life span of world gas reserves is around 62.8 years. At the end of 2009, recoverable natural gas reserves of Iran were around 33.09 trillion cubic meters. This figure placed Iran behind Russia with the second largest gas reserves worldwide. The natural gas demand inside the country is mainly providing by onshore reserves. Just like oil, Iran has some shared offshore, as well as onshore gas fields with her neighboring countries, namely Turkmenistan, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and some of the states of UAE such as Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. In 2009, total production of rich gas was around 582.7 billion cubic meters. In 2009, total natural gas import and export were 5.8 and 6.8 billion cubic meters respectively. At present 12 gas treating companies and dehydration units with a capacity of 497.5 million cubic meters per day are under operation. According to national energy policies, the aim of developing natural gas transmission within the country is to increase share of natural gas in the energy consumption basket, via substitution of natural gas with other petroleum products.

  By now many urban as well as rural areas are located next to transmission pipelines and have been covered with the gas distribution network.

  In recent years, because of its relative advantages to other fuels, natural gas has been recognized – worldwide – as a fuel of choice for present and future. Natural gas is cheaper, environmentally less benign, and easily substitutable with other fuels, particularly with petroleum products, for a wide range of applications. As mentioned earlier, Iran possesses large amount of valuable natural gas resources (second largest in the world). This has given Iran a great position to promote gas substitution policy with other fossil fuels. Having said this, substitution policy has become one of the most important priorities of Iran’s long term energy strategy. For the same reason, there is a significant increase in the share of natural gas in total energy consumption in all sectors. In 2009, natural gas consumption increased by 9.4% compared to 2008.

4. Electricity

  Iran has a particular position in terms of industry among neighboring countries, CIS, Central Asia and Africa. Iran stands first considering the capacity of its installed electricity plants in the region and among the first 10th countries around the world. Iran has proved self reliance in electricity transmission and distribution systems and supplying the required domestic electricity as well as in manufacturing and exporting the related equipments in many parts of the sector and mechanical and engineering services.

  Total nominal installed capacity of electricity generation in Iran reached over 56182.0 MW in 2009, showing a growth of 6.1% compared to 2008 . In this year share of different types of power plants from total installed capacity was as follows: 28.0% for steam, 57.4% for gas turbine and combined cycle, 13.7% for hydro, 0.8% for diesel and 0.2% for solar and wind power plants.

  In the same year, average net capacity of electricity generation was 49515.9 MW, showing a rise of 1899.1 MW compared to 2008.

  In recent years, several measures have been adopted in order to increase the efficiency and capacity of the stations such as empowering gas units of some power plants, removing the limits on some generation units and equipping the gas units of combined cycle power plants with cooling systems. At present, some research in the field of cold storage and heat and electricity co-generation systems (CHP plants) is being carried out.

  Fossil fuels such as heavy fuel oil, steam coal, diesel and natural gas are the major fuels used for electricity generation in thermal power plants. The types of fuel for power plants are chosen depending on many factors especially economic and technical parameters. In 2009, the amount of gas oil, fuel oil and natural gas, blast furnace gas and coke oven gas consumed in the power plants of the country were about 4934.1, 9541.5 million liters and 43404.0, 1834 and 6.0 million cubic meters respectively. Construction of new gas fired and combined cycle power plants and replacing existing fossil-fired plants with co-generating/combined cycles are within the energy policies of the country.

  In 2009, electricity generation in the country reached to 221.4 TWh. Compared to the previous year, it shows a growth of about 3.2%. During the period of 2000 to 2009, per capita electricity generation in Iran increased from 1907 KWh to 3005.7 KWh. In fact, it has been growing at an average annual rate of 5.2%.

  An integrated and secure transmission line is one of the requirements of electricity industry in each country. In Iran, the length of high-voltage transmission lines of 400 and 230 KV is around 45925 km/circuit. The length of sub-distribution lines of 132, 63, and 66 KV would be reached to around 63044 km/circuit, and the total length of distribution lines for urban and rural areas includes 350583 km medium-voltage and 287708 km low-voltage lines.

At present, Iran is connected to all her neighboring countries at the level of transmission voltage. Furthermore, there are some preliminary and implementing projects for the establishment development and expansion transformation lines to Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Iraq and Armenia. In 2009, Iran exchanged electricity with Turkey, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan. In the same year the amount of electricity imported from Nakhjavan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkmenistan reached 2068.1 GWh and the amount of electricity exported to Turkey, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nakhjavan and Iraq accounted for 6152.4 GWh. In other words, net export electricity of the country was about 4084.3 GWh.

  Residential, public and commercial, transport and agriculture sector and also public illumination are major final consumers of electricity. By 2009, amount of electricity consumption touched 173152.4 GWh. Of which 167527.0 GWh has been sold by MOE and the rest is provided by the large industries. At the same year, total customers of electricity in Iran were about 24191 thousands. Residential sector with 19844 thousands customers was the major consumer among others and commercial sector with 3031 thousands customers was in second place. Public, industry, and agriculture with 952, 202 and 161 thousands customers were in the next places respectively.

5. Coal

 Usage of any type of coal including steam and cocking coal with the consideration of the amount of the reserves in the country could be important factor for making proper energy policies. Since 1967, many exploration operations have been performed in Iran which resulted in exploration of several coal reserves with a total capacity of 11-14 billion tones in the country. According to the latest estimates, proven reserves of coal in the country are around 1.1 billion tons.

 In 2009, over 2121.2 thousand tones of raw coal was extracted from 101 active coal mines of the country, of which 993.8 thousand tones are produced by public sector and the rest by the private sector. Also, amount of the extracted coking and steam coal in the same year was 2016.3 and 104.9 thousand tons respectively. After processing the raw coal it will be ready for consumption. In 2009, over 1069.0 thousand tones of processed coal have been produced. Compared to 2008, the production decreased nearly 13.9% in this year. This decrease was mainly due to the 23.4% reduction in coal extraction of the country in 2009 comparing the previous year. In 2009, imports of coal and coal products to the country totaled 643.1 thousand tons, of which 10.5 thousand tons (nearly 1.6%) devoted to coal imports and the rest to coke, semi-coke and coal tar.

 In 2009, amount of coal exported from Iran was 23.0 thousand tons of which 22.1 thousand tons allocated to coal and the rest include coke, semi coke and coal tar. In recent years, Armenia, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, UAE, Russian Federation, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Bangladesh were the major importers of Iran's coal.

 Thermal power plants and steel industries are the major coal consumers in the world. In Iran, Isfahan steel company is the largest coal consumer, which produces Iron made in blast furnace. In 2009, the amount of coal consumption of Isfahan steel company accounted for 1020.0 that only around 7.6% of this demand has provided by the imported coal. In addition of Isfahan Steel Company, Zarand Coal Preparation Co. is also another major consumer of the coal in the country. In 2009, the coal consumption of Zarand Coal Preparation CO. has been around 348.0 thousand tons.

 One of the main usages of coking coal is to produce coke oven coke. Coke is used mainly in the foundry industry acting as chemical agent. In 2009, the total production of the coke in the country has been about 946.6 thousand tons and the import of the coke and semi coke was around 631.7 thousand tons that of this figure, 1225.7 thousand tons is allocated to the coke consumption of the Isfahan Steel Company and 57.2 thousand tons is allocated to the other Iron and steel industries, ferroalloys and foundry.

 Production of the coke oven gas during the coke combustion in Isfahan Steel Industry was around 274.0 million cubic meters in 2009 and the total consumption of this product in different units of Isfahan Steel Company was 235.8 million cubic meters. 6.0 million cubic meters of this figure is used in power generating units of Isfahan Steel Company.

 Blast furnace gas is produced during cast iron production in blast furnace. The production and consumption of blast furnace gas in Isfahan Steel Co in 2009 was 4363.0 and 2938.0 million cubic meters respectively. The biggest share for the consumption of this product is allocated to the power plants with the amount of 1834 million cubic meters that account for the 62.4% of the total consumption. 

6. Renewable Energy

 Ecological and geographical characteristic of Iran is well suited to a diverse and extensive use of renewable energy sources. Also, demographic diversity (large population in scattered and remote areas with different climates) dictates the application of renewable energy in Iran for a better and equitable access to energy.

  Hydro : There are several types of large, medium, small, mini and micro scale hydro power plants in Iran. At present Iran is one of the major countries of the world in the field of dam's construction and water resources management. Total potential of hydro electricity generation of Iran is estimated to be 50 TWh. This potential includes Karoon, Dez and Karkhe watersheds with the electricty generating potential of 30, 9 and 6 TWh respectively. The potential of other rivers is estimated to be 5 TWh. According to the latest estimation, capacity of Iran's hydro plans is 37.4 GW.

  At the end of 2009, 44 operating hydro plants of the country with the capacity of 7704.7 MW generated almost 7233.2 GWh of electricity.

Wind Energy : Iran has a large wind potential due to its geographical location. In recent years Iran made considerable progress in utilizing wind energy. In this respect in 2009, 158 wind turbines were installed in different parts of Iran with the total capacity of 90.6 MW. These turbines have generated over 226.8 GWh of electricity. Some units of wind turbines with generating capacity of 98.8 MW is planned to be installed in other parts, some of which are under construction. As some applied technologies such as wind are shown to be more appropriate to provide energy needs of rural areas and can be manufactured in Iran, then such technologies can be used for irrigation and agricultural purposes as well as electricity generation. Solar Energy : Iran has a high potential for using solar energy. Relentless sun shine and flat, vast area of lands are two important factors for the world most ambitious solar energy projects. In 2009, the installed capacity of photovoltaic (PV) systems in the country was 97 KW, with the electricity generation of around 72.0 MWh. Geothermal : Deep drilling and exploring operation in Sabalan was the first major activity for development and deployment of geothermal energy in the Middle East. High potential of the region, being clean and safe, reliable and cost effectiveness are the key reasons to develop geothermal energy in this region. This activity has proved the availability of geothermal potential in the region. At present, construction of a geothermal power plant in Meshkin shahr (Ardebil Province) is under implementation.

  Other Renewables: There are many other projects in Iran launching and developing various renewables such as biomass, biogas, hydrogen and fuel cells which are under study or in implementing stage.


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